Intended for healthcare professionals


Fracking and health

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 05 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2397
  1. David McCoy, professor of global public health1,
  2. Patrick Saunders, visiting professor of public health2
  1. 1Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University London, UK
  2. 2University of Staffordshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D McCoy d.mccoy{at}

The scale of harm to health is uncertain, but the danger of exacerbating climate change is not

In October 2017, the Scottish parliament voted in favour of its government’s decision1 to extend a moratorium on shale gas production, often colloquially referred to as “fracking,” that had been placed in 2015. This followed an extensive public consultation and the government commissioning six reports on unconventional oil and gas extraction that covered economic effects; decommissioning, site restoration, and aftercare of industrial sites; climate change; seismic activity; health effects; and community level effects from transportation.2

Despite this thorough process, the petrochemical multinational INEOS took the Scottish government to court on the grounds that the effective ban on shale gas production is “unlawful” and that ministers have misused their power and made “very serious errors.” INEOS has also applied for financial compensation.3 Meanwhile, central government argues that shale gas will enhance the UK’s energy security, create jobs, and boost the economy and that “world class regulation” will keep communities and the environment safe.4

Arguments continue between those …

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